Some story time offerings have upped their game during these pandemic times and are adding social and physical activity to the traditional sit-and-listen events.
At Browder’s Birds in Mattituck, for instance, story time is followed by the kids collecting their own eggs from the farm’s chicken coops. And at the Long Island Maritime Museum, story time is paired with a scavenger hunt to find hidden cutouts of sea creatures.
STORIES AND SCAVENGER HUNT
Story time is followed by a scavenger hunt at 10 a.m. every Thursday through October at the Long Island Maritime Museum in West Sayville.
Families gather outdoors on beach towels on the dock beside the Great South Bay to hear the stories with nautical themes aimed at preschoolers ages 3 to 5. "I’m going to try to have themes geared toward making sure our oceans are clean and we are not destroying them," says visitor services and volunteer coordinator Christopher Klaritch, who reads the stories to the children.
At one recent story hour, the children heard the stories of "Mister Seahorse" by Eric Carle, about underwater fathers caring for their babies, and "Turtle Island," by Kevin Sherry, the story of four shipwrecked animals — a bear, an owl, a frog and a cat — who are rescued by climbing onto a turtle’s shell.
After the stories, it’s time for a scavenger hunt. The museum places colorful cutouts of starfish, horseshoe crabs, octopi and other sea creatures among the bushes around the buildings on the museum grounds; families have a paper key and circle the creatures that they are able to find.
"It’s a good way to get them out and socialize, even amid COVID concerns. It’s one of the safer options," says Danielle Valentine, 37, a compliance analyst from Sayville who started bringing her son Cole, 3, to the museum’s story times last year and attended again in September. "He loved the scavenger hunt today," she says.
PICTURE BOOKS AND EGG COLLECTING
Kids collect a dozen chicken eggs themselves after story time at 1 p.m. on Oct. 9 and Nov. 6 at Browder’s Birds in Mattituck.
"It’s like every day is Easter. For the kids, they get a hands-on experience," says Sonya Lucki, 38, of Laurel, a car salesperson who attends the story times with her three children, Grady, 5, Gage, 3 and Liv, 9 months. Picking the eggs themselves helps them make the connection that a chicken laid them, she says.
Families first sit outside in the farm field and hear stories with a farm animal theme, especially turkeys, chicken, sheep and ducks. Books have included "Chicken Bedtime Is Really Early," by Erica S. Perl, which explores farm animal sleeping habits, and "10 Fat Turkeys," by Tony Johnston, which teaches children how to count backward, says Mignon Osmer of the Cutchogue New Suffolk Free Library.
The library approached the farm during the pandemic in 2020, when story time at the library couldn’t be held indoors but the farm could accommodate people outside. Holly Browder, farm co-owner, said she had the brainstorm of adding the egg collection.
"I had the idea that if they are going to be at the farm, they should walk around and see animals and collect eggs, because that’s always really fun," she says. "Everyone gets their own basket and takes home a dozen eggs."
Long Island Maritime Museum
WHEN | WHERE The cost is $5 per child. Participants must register in advance by calling or emailing the museum, which is located at 88 West Ave., West Sayville. Rain cancels. 631-854-4974, limaritime.org.
WHEN | WHERE Story time is free, but the optional egg collection afterward costs $10 for a basket of 12 eggs. Children explore the nest boxes along the wall of the chicken coop. No registration is necessary. The farm is at 4050 Soundview Ave., Mattituck. Rain cancels. For more information, call the library at 631-734-6360; browdersbirds.com.